deschooling how to know when you are done

Many new homeschoolers ask about deschooling-how to know when you are done. If you’ve taken the time to deschool, you may be wondering when to pull the plug on this time period, or when to let it go on a little longer.

First, let’s talk about deschooling is.

Deschooling is the adjustment period a child and parent goes through when leaving public or private school and beginning homeschooling.

  • It’s an opportunity for the parent to develop their own philosophy on learning.
  • A chance for the child to decompress and disconnect from “school” being the only known way of learning, and public school being the standard expectation.

Deschooling is not a time of doing nothing.

It’s really about reconnecting with your child. Learning how they learn, and setting a new way of being together. You will feel the connection with your child grow deeper as you explore and learn about them. What excites them? What makes them tick? What brings them joy?

How long to deschool?

There is no hard and fast rule for how long to deschool. Generally, a good rule is to deschool 1 month for every year your child was in school. That’s really an arbitrary number, because some kids need longer and some children are ready to go as soon as you pull them from public school.

 Deschooling is for parent and child

Recognizing some signs that deschooling is done will set you up for the next steps of homeschooling. We no longer worry that our kids are falling behind, or not learning enough. Comparing them to what the kids in public school are learning, falls to the wayside. Sometimes there are a few moments of panic as we realize, that we no longer know what is being taught in public schools.

Deschooling may be done when a negative comment from a friend doesn’t send you into a tail spin or immediate defense mode. In my book, Out of the Box Learning~Empowering YOU On Your Homeschool Journey, I spend an entire chapter talking about those moments of panic when you realize that your child’s education being entirely in your hands, can seem overwhelming. We’ve had a lifetime of people choosing and deciding what our kids will learn, and now that responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders. When you can sit comfortably with being in charge of your child’s learning, you’ve likely done the work of deschooling.

You’ll feel the internal shift.

There’s not an easy way to explain that feeling. It’s a sense of peace, that you’ve made the right decision for your child. It just feels right. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have anxious moments. It just means that your gut is telling you it’s time to move on. You stop basing your decisions on what others think, or by what the public school is doing. Instead, you’ll be INTERESTED in what your kids are enjoying, more than CONCERNED about what they’re NOT learning.

Kids need time to deschool too.

Kids need time just like adults to deschool. Most kids are ready to stop deschooling, when learning becomes interesting to them again. When they know their learning isn’t outside of them, but rather an internal shift. Kids may start to explore learning on their own again, after shunning any time of formal learning. They start to rediscover interests and hobbies and may immerse themselves in the learning for long periods of time.  

But what do you do if your child is still resistant or indifferent to learning.

Pitfalls to Overcome.

Sometimes, deschooling can seem like it goes on forever. If it’s been longer than a year, or your child is still having adversity to learning- explore the reasons why. There may be something more going on. Is the child’s trauma from public school so deep that he needs more time to process the events? Were there bad learning experiences that he is projecting on to homeschooling, and thinking that it will be the same thing over again?

If your child is resistant to homeschooling, he may be overwhelmed because there are no established expectations. In public school, every decision is made for kids from what they will study to when they can pee and eat. They have been conditioned to meet the expectations and goals set by adults, on an adults time table. Some kids struggle with the overwhelm of now being in charge of their learning. If this is your child, set some simple structure around their day to help them begin to make decisions.

Deschooling Looks Different to Every Family.

Some kids need long periods of deschooling and others jump into the freedom of homeschooling with no holds barred. Once you’ve decided to stop deschooling, you can begin planning your next steps. Read my blog post, 7 Ways to Let Kids Take Charge of Their Learning, if you need inspiration.

What to do while deschooling.

As I mentioned before, deschooling is not a time to do nothing. It’s a time to explore how your child learns and all the vast opportunities around you.

You can:

  • Go to museums, workshops, and on field trips.
  • Hook up with other homeschoolers, find what activities they are interested in, or what ideas they have.
  • Explore curriculum WITH your child.
  • Talk about what learning looks like.
  • Provide opportunities to explore the world.

Knowing when to stop deschooling, is just as important as the process itself. Really spend this time getting to know your child, and creating a new paradigm in learning.

Happy Homeschooling!


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